Summary: There maybe some speculations that we have inherited from our ancestors about death, but only Christ’s teaching on the matter is to be adhered by every Christian.
A. Many people avoid talking about death for several reasons. But such attitude tries to deny the reality of death. The Philippines is known as the only Christian country in Asia. But I have observed that many people here have presumptions about death that do not agree with the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you want to identify yourselves as Christians, you should be willing to give up your thoughts about death if they do not match with what Jesus Christ teaches about the matter.
B. A priest was heading towards the church convent one night and saw a 4 year old child roaming around the city streets. Concerned of what might happen to the child, he offered to take him to his home.
Inside the car, the priest asked the child about his name. The child answered "Yawa" (devil). The priest could not believe what he heard so he asked again for his name and he received the same answer.
"Ok, since your name is "Yawa" (devil), tell me where do you live so that I could take you there. The child answered, "sa impyerno" (in hell).
The priest thought that the child was joking, but his face was serious when he said those things. Then the priest offered to take him to "impyerno" (hell) where, as the child said, he lives.
The place was actually a slum, squatters’ area. When they arrived at the child’s house, the mother met them with this curse: Ah, here you are, "Yawa" (devil)! How dare you leave this hellish home!"
Now you understand why the child answered the priest that his name is "Yawa" (devil), and his home is "impyerno" (hell). As soon as the child had senses, that was what he constantly heard from his parents, so, he eventually came to believe that that was his name, and that he lives in that kind of home. But you know that that is not true.
The same is also true with death. You may have some presumptions about death that you inherited from you ancestors, or from your church traditions. But, be ready right now as I share with you what our Lord Jesus Christ teaches about the matter.
Jesus Christ’s method of teaching is through the use of Parables. In his teaching about death, he used the Parable of the Rich man and the Beggar Lazarus.
From this story, we can learn five truths about death.
II. Five Truths About Death
A. A person who dies is still conscious of what Happens to him.
1. The rich man felt anguish (he was in agony in hell’s fire v. 24)
2. Lazarus felt peace and comfort with God.
3. Some churches teach "soul sleep" or "annihilation" of souls after death, but they simply are not true. Jesus Christ did not teach "soul sleep" or annihilation.
4. Jesus Christ taught, through this parable that a dead man’s soul is still conscious after death, and is still able to feel agony or joy.
B. There are only two destinies of our soul when we die: heaven or hell
1. Lazarus was in heaven
2. The rich man was in hell.
3. What was in between was a chasm (v.26)
4. The Roman church teaches purgatory, a temporal place of torment for one’s soul before he could enter heaven. His soul will come out of the purgatory through the masses offered by the priest for his soul. And this is with a considerable church fee, of course).
5. But nowhere in this passage does Jesus Christ mentions purgatory.
6. If you want to identify yourselves as Christians, you should give up your false belief about death and follow what Jesus Christ teaches about the matter.
C. The soul of the dead can never go back to earth
1. The rich man had to beg God (personified as Abraham) to send Lazarus back to earth to warn his five brothers. (v. 27-28)
2. If a dead’s soul can go back to earth, the rich man wouldn’t have asked God to send Lazarus back to earth. He should go back to earth himself.
3. This shows that it is impossible for the souls of men to return to earth and appear to their relatives.
4. Those allegedly dead souls who appeared to their relatives are actually demons who use their dead’s face to continually deceive them.
D. It is not the living who is praying for the dead, but the dead is actually the one praying for the living.
1. The rich man prayed to God for his five brothers.
2. This is exactly opposite to Rome’s teaching on purgatory, where the living are supposed to pray for the salvation of their dead relatives.
3. The reality of the matter has something to do with "fund raising."